Mob Rule?
September 03, 2009

WASHINGTON -- Health care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change. But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion?

The Price is Right
September 01, 2009

Fifteen years ago, when I was a relatively young freelance writer with no health insurance (one of “the immortals,” as this group is sardonically referred to by medical professionals), I was being bothered by an ankle injury I’d suffered several years earlier. I made an appointment with a local orthopedist specializing in foot and ankle problems, hoping for some simple advice on how to make it hurt less. After filling out a form indicating I had no insurance, I handed it to the receptionist and asked her what the visit would cost. She said she didn’t know. I saw the doctor anyway.

Who Knew? Mickey Did.
August 28, 2009

My friend Mickey Kaus has a rejoinder to my latest column, in which I suggest that the emphasis on cost-cutting--while most likely a strategic mistake--was nevertheless easy to understand in retrospect. Among other things, he suggests, some people did predict this. Like, for example, Mickey. Well, he's absolutely right about that. He was a critic of this argument as far back as April: Isn't it an epic mistake to try to sell Democratic health care reform on this basis?

Not Even the Pretense of Making an Argument
August 28, 2009

The Republican Party website today carries a new press release titled "Real Solutions for Seniors." It has a lovely picture of an elderly couple walking and the idea, I gather, is to show how the Republican agenda will help seniors get better health care. But look closely--heck, not even that closely--at the content of the release. There are five bullet points, each one explaining a different Republican proposal. Four of them have absolutely nothing to do with senior citizens; they're about reforms that target working-age Americans.

Arne Duncan's Seductions--And Why Schools Need Them
August 26, 2009

Education Secretary Arne Duncan proposed today that $3.5 billion in grants dedicated to improving Title I schools--or those with at least 40 percent of students from low-income families--should go to school districts committed to "turnaround" strategies.

Don't Panic Over the New Deficit Numbers
August 25, 2009

So what should we make of today’s other economic announcement--that the 10-year deficit projection has climbed to $9 trillion from just over $7 trillion earlier this year? Short answer: Not too much. As the OMB fact-sheet accompanying the release points out, the reason for the bulk of the $2 trillion increase is that the recession was deeper than expected, which led to far greater spending on “automatic stabilizers” like unemployment insurance and lower tax bills.

Want To Reform Education? Stop Hitting Kids.
August 14, 2009

States will soon be applying for shares of the Race to the Top (RTTT) Fund, a $4.35-billion portion of the stimulus package that the Department of Education will dole out based on states' commitment to education reform. There are 19 criteria for receiving RTTT money.

Obama Deranges Terrified Citizens
August 09, 2009

Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals.   Of all the back-and-forth recriminations about this week's shriekfests at congressional "town hall meetings," the most maddening is that offered on Friday by the oh-so-eloquent wordsmith Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. According to Noonan, arrogant Democrats are insisting on health care reform despite its obvious absurdity at a time like this, thereby "terrifying" citizens into protests against the outrage.

A Nation of Commentators
August 07, 2009

  “For two thousand years,” wrote Harold Rosenberg, “the main energies of Jewish communities have gone into the mass production of intellectuals.” For Rosenberg, the art critic who belonged to the receding constellation of writers known as the New York Intellectuals, such a claim was something between a boast and a self-justification. The New York Intellectuals were mainly second-generation Americans, whose self-sacrificing immigrant parents won them the opportunities America offered to newcomers, including Jews.

Exposing The Euthanasia Scare
August 04, 2009

Republicans have a stable of bona fide health policy experts. These are recognizable, sometimes quite partisan conservatives. Yet they are handicapped as political operatives by their residence in the reality-based community.